Jets should jump to front of the line for Andy Dalton

The New York Jets need a better backup quarterback quite badly, and Andy Dalton has fallen right into their laps.

The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t do Andy Dalton any favors by waiting until a week after the draft to cut him, as he hit the market with few open opportunities. But now one team can be added to the list of top suitors. According to Rich Cimini and Ben Baby of ESPN, the New York Jets have shown “some level of interest” in the veteran signal caller.

Sam Darnold is heading into his third season, so he’s in no danger of being supplanted as the Jets’ starter even if there’s a case to be made for Dalton as legit competition. A nice finish last season, with 1,947 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions as the Jets won six of their last eight games, is a launching point for Darnold in 2020.

But Darnold missed three games early last season with mono, and the Jets went 0-3 while being outscored 84-23 in those games. Trevor Siemian started Week 2 before being injured, and Luke Falk started games on each side of a Week 4 bye.

The only quarterback behind Darnold with any experience right now is David Fales, who has zero career NFL starts and 48 career regular-season pass attempts (42 in one 2017 game) over six seasons. Sixth-round pick rookie James Morgan rounds out the depth chart for the Jets.

It’s fair to say Darnold was not quite all the way himself for a few games after returning to action last year, as the Jets lost three in a row after beating the Dallas Cowboys in his first game back. If he had been healthy, the team would have surely started better than 1-7. If there had been a better situation behind him, there would have been a case for him to sit a few more games than  he did.

Dalton will have to settle for a backup job, whether he wants to or not. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a prominent possible landing spot, given his ties with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. The Jaguars ($21.2 million) and Jets ($18.3 million) both have plenty of cap space to make a significant bid for Dalton.

The Jets need a better backup quarterback as much as any team in the league this side of Pittsburgh, Jacksonville or Minnesota, and Darnold’s absence last year put a huge spotlight on it. As long as Dalton hasn’t signed a deal with the Jaguars, his most obvious fit, the door is open for the Jets to swoop in and get him. They need to push it all the way in.

Next: 5 breakout stars to watch for the Bears in 2020

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